Volume 2-2012



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THIS WEEK'S RAR TUNES:  Listen by clicking on the links or covers below.

Yours truly is offering up a little Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Greeks, who knew a thing or two about winging it philosophically. Use this link or click on poor Democritus below to hear "A Simple Explanation".

Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to breeding stock... Use this link or click on the good people below to hear another in a nauseating string of RAR originals - "(You Do) That Thing That Sets Me Free".

Yours truly has been all about myself of late, which is why I am behind on record reviews and most everything else, but I do have a new batch of recordings, starting with "Betty from Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as my actual Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to all those weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to everybody else's movies.

Call it "creative destruction", like Mitt Romney does. "Until Sam Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain - personified by the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who has left an unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my metaphor for early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must be dealt with so that honest souls can carry on.

Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever she is, pictured below on the cover to my next- generation version of "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes",  introduced several years back as a tune about "the dark side of loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie may not let me exploit her in this way for long, but as long as she does isn't she perfect? I mean, for this song?

"Just Eleven Minutes"  comes from a few years back, and from the same box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the versions provided below come much closer to my ambitions for this story of a booze-fueled cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. The song is almost entirely played around the single chord of E, with occasional transitions through A-B, for those keeping score. The "psycho" version was the original inspiration, but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version has some nice qualities. Unfortunately it also shows that as a guitar player I am no Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up. (Randy Barker played with Michael Woody and the Too High Band, which in the end gave him way too little exposure, but those who heard him play remember it even 30 years later as something special.)




(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"The Musical Meccas of the World"








Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects







"The One I Love" -  David Gray

"Babylon" - David Gray



NEKTAR - '70s Avatars of Progressive Rock

The '70s British prog rockers in Nektar rose from cult status in Europe to enjoy a four-year run on the U.S. album and singles charts. Their focus was on creating a psychedelic experience. They were all about "concept." Their 1973 Remember the Future LP told the story of a blind kid who communicates with an extraterrestrial. "Astral Man" became a hit single for them off their 1975  Down to Earth LP, which featured a circus theme. They peaked artistically, to the minds of some, in 1976 with their album Recycled, which landed them a deal with Polydor, at the time a label with a strong U.S. presence. (Polydor's U.S. label is no more, but as a U.K. label Polydor's stable includes Klaxons, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, James Morrison, Take That and Kaiser Chiefs. Under an agreement with Interscope-Geffen-A&M, Polydor distributes Eminem and Gwen Stefani in the U.K.). As so frequently happens with big label newbies, Nektar got one shot with Polydor, produced an LP, Magic Is A Child (1977), that sounded a little too much like pop for the band's early fans, though Nektar had veered far from their original German-era style anyway. They experienced the usual major label packaging of compilation and live material and they disappeared until 2002, when they re-formed to headline the NEARfest, which they followed with an album, The Prodigal Son. They have released two more subsequent to that. contributor Diana Olson was in Germany to witness Nektar's early incarnation and in this issue she checks in with the progressives 30 years hence on the heels of their 2007 release, Book of Days.



by Diana Olson Converses with Roye Albrighton

They were known as the father time of Progressive Rock. Formed in 1970, the breakthrough for the all-British band NEKTAR was not in their homeland, but in Germany (and the USA). With albums like “Remember The Future”, “Down To Earth” and “Recycled” (all 3 reaching Gold-Status) they rocketed to one of the top acts of the 70’s. Their shows back then are still talked about to this day which featured one of the best lightshows ever seen. I can personally attest to that statement, as I was one of those fans. I lived in Darmstadt Germany when Nektar blew in. It was a time of the “love children” generation. Flowers, folk music, and poetry. There was an old wine cellar in the city that was converted to a coffee house (called The Underground) where the band would frequent. It was a tiny place and their huge light and sound shook the earth. After witnessing Nektars incredible light show and hearing their progressive rock music, I became an instant fan, friend and groupie. I spent a great deal of time following the band, often chatting backstage after their concerts. Their music was not just music, it was a philosophical and revolutionary experience! Nektar was way ahead of its time and they knew it. I returned to the US and continued to enjoy their albums over the years. When Nektar came to the US on a world tour in 1974, I was so happy to see that their talents were finally being appreciated in the USA.

Nektar had a charismatic front man, Roye Albrighton who had shared a stage with Jimi Hendrix, Allan “Taff” Freeman; a unique keyboard player, Derek “Mo” Moore; a bass playing powerhouse and Ron Howden; with fluidity rarely found in a drummer. Fifth member Mick Brockett was not a musician, but was responsible for one of the most stunning light and visual shows ever to grace the rock stage.The roots of Nektar lay in Hamburg in 1970. The band Prophecy, (featuring Freeman, Moore and Howden), were performing in the legendary Star Club. It was here that Prophecy met an extremely talented guitarist Roye Albrighton, also playing the German club circuit. Disillusioned with his own group, Albrighton was approached by Prophecy to join them as a guitar player. Light technician Mick Brockett (who had worked with Pink Floyd in the late sixties), had been providing visual backdrops for Prophecy in Germany and was invited to become a permanent fixture in the new band. Opting for a name change, Nektar was born.

It was with the 1973 album “Remember the Future” that Nektar’s real breakthrough came. The album became Nektar’s first American release and entered the Billboard album chart in 1974, attaining Gold status without the band ever having visited the USA. An American tour was swiftly booked, with Nektar becoming a major concert attraction.

After their huge success of the 70’s and 80’s, the 90’s were a quiet time for the band. In 2001 a new Nektar album appeared, “The Prodigal Son”, and since then the band have gone from strength to strength and are once again on the podium of one of the best bands on the international Progressive scene. A huge part of Nektars career can be afforded to their record company Bellaphon records who began with their debut album -”Journey To The Centre Of The Eye” including many records throughout the 70’s including their Comeback-Album “The Prodigal Son”. This was the starting point for the eventual release of further products from the band.

Exactly 4 years after their last album “Evolution”, they will release their new work “Book of Days”, on Friday May 16th 2008. It includes 8 songs of full blown arrangements and intertwined with pure rock and soaring solos and beautiful ballads that only NEKTAR know how to do.Already during their last autumn tour 2007, parts of the new album were being performed, and press critics have hailed these as some of the best NEKTAR yet. After several changes in the bands “live” lineup, 2 of the original members remain Roye Albrighton (guitar/lead vocals) and Ron Howden (drums/vocals) together with 2 German musicians Klaus Henatsch (keyboards/vocals) and Peter Pichl (bass/vocals).

With “Book Of Days” Nektar are starting a new chapter in their career. I asked Roye Albrighton……..

How has your music changed over the years?

I think it’s inevitable that the writing of Nektars music will change, but this has always been the case with this band. Every album was different in its concept and it’s tonal makeup. I don’t think that any 2 albums were ever the same that is the classic Nektar way. Sometimes it would stray toward the more commercial side of things, and then in the next step it would go somewhere totally different. I just want to write music that’s interesting and at the same time arouses thoughts and provokes feelings.

Tell me a little about your new CD.

Book of Days is a fairly loose concept, the main object of it being to describe certain aspects of our present life styles that are good or not so good. A kind of diary into the human condition. I am an animal lover and feel the cruelty toward whales in this civilized world to be unacceptable, so I wrote a song about it. This is the sort of thing this album is set to create, observations of our present world.

What do you want people to get from your music?

I would like people to take what they want from it. I don’t think pushing listeners into liking your music makes a great deal of sense, if they find it arouses feelings, memories or emotions, then the music has done it’s job.

Do you still have an extensive light show?

Not like the 70’s, but we concentrate more on stage lighting these days.

Who do you feel were your greatest influences?

Oh so much and so many. I think Hendrix and the Beatles did a lot of damage in this department..hard acts to follow though.

Do you remember playing in The Underground in Darmstadt….that tiny little place…..what are your memories of that time in 1970 with the band?

Wow! yes a great place in another time. I can’t say I remember too much, I was relatively young back then and had a head full of music that had to come out somehow, but the memories of Martin Scheemer and the MAN band still remain.

Is there a tour planned?

We are working on getting the band over to the USA for 2009, but it’s very hard in this financial climate, still we are trying. As for Europe, we will be doing a tour in October/November; I’ll keep you posted.

For more information on NEKTAR, go to,, and

Journey To The Centre Of The Eye (1972), Label: Bacillus
A Tab In The Ocean (1972), Label: Bacillus
Sounds Like This (1973), Label: Bacillus
Remember The Future (1973), Label: Bacillus, CD [remastered 2002]
Down To Earth (1974), Label: Bacillus
Sunday Night At The London Roundhouse (1974), Label: Bacillus,
2-CD [remastered 2002]
Recycled (1975), Label: Bacillus
Live In New York (1977), Label: Bacillus
Magic Is A Child (1977), Label: Bacillus
More Live Nektar In New York (1978), Label: Bacillus
Man In The Moon (1980), Wiederveröffentlichung in Vorbereitung
The Prodigal Son (2001), Label: Bacillus
Unidentified Flying Abstract - Live At Chipping Norton 1974 (2002), Label: Bacillus
Evolution (2004), Wiederveröffentlichung in Vorbereitung
Book Of Days (Veröffentlichung: 16.05.2008), Label: Bacillus




Britain's reigning heavy metal magazine, the 26-year old Kerrang! (German for "boner"), has been aging a bit, or so one could infer from the publication's close connection with a genre that produced most of its stars a couple decades ago.

Kerrang! overtook the venerable New Musical Express several years ago as the most widely circulated music magazine in the U.K., but someone there in the front office must have given some thought to the risks of stagnation. Over the past two years Kerrang! has been remaking itself into a more broadly ranging vehicle for promoting today's rock. In fact, the magazine has played a significant role in raising the profile of such new scene stealers as non-metal contenders Enter Shikari, The Lost Prophets and Gallows. Circulation numbers remain strong, but this shift in focus has been a mixed bag, as one might imagine, for the publication in terms of pleasing long-time readers. The magazine that championed thrash and glam metal acts like Mötley Crüe, Slayer, Metallica and Poison has gone a little emo of late.

Kerrang!'s thorny dilemma was evident in the 2007 awards, a mixture of reverence to the "glorious" pasts of Judas Priest, Trent Reznor and The Deftones, to tips of the hat for mag favorites The Lost Prophets, selected Best British Band for the second year running. That is Lost Prophets frontman Ian Watkins there on the right, counting the victories.











Fall Out Boy 'This Ain't A Scene'














Machine Head 'The Blackening'


























Go to  for a completing accounting of the Kerrang Magazine Rock Awards.


The photograph above is reported, on the Kerrang website, to be of Ashley Simpson entering the awards ceremony through a back entry. It prompted the following representative series of replies posted August 24 on the Kerrang blogsite:

why is that little poser shit here, GO BACK TO AMERICA BITCH - y in fuck is she here get lost!!!!!! - Get home where you belong. - i dont like that person - eurgh hate her! - she makes me puke! *puking* - She´s a bitch just like her sister!!

One may also find anti-Ashley Simpson opinions expressed on the Kerrang blog. (And you think you want to be famous...)



To those of us old enough to have experienced the British Invasion, and then the Punk era of a decade-and-a-half later, one of the most noxious lines ever delivered was Joe Strummer's defiant assertion that "phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust." To be replaced by The Clash?

Liverpudlians THE CORAL may be the living embodiment of this generational disconnect. At their most charming they are replicants of early Beatles - not territory generally trod by other than Beatles tribute bands. The Coral does the earnest harmonies, simple arrangements and guileless vocal deliveries. In this mode, they write the kind of Nashville-influenced melodies the Fab Four used to churn out seemingly effortlessly. And in this mode, The Coral achieves a kind of lift off, a refreshing carefree musicality. "Dreaming of You," which you can hear on their MySpace site, even features a vocal approximating something like a John Lennon growl.

There is, then, that other band residing within, that sounds influenced by The Doors and The Clash, and sometimes even pre-dawn folkies like The Kingston Trio. The swing from one to the next makes The Coral a wildly uneven unit, but not uninteresting. They cover all this waterfront convincingly, not in a virtuoso, visionary way, but more like well intentioned and fairly unpretentious music lovers.

The Coral is an engaging and energetic live act, where their disjointed recording focus can be redirected and used as a dynamic tool. The bandmembers are (clockwise from far left): John Duffy (percussion), Paul Duffy ( bass), Bill Ryder (lead guitar), Lee Southall (rhythm guitar), James Skelly (guitar). Drummer Ian Skully and Organist Nick Power are not pictured.


The Coral's can be heard at their MySpace site at Samples from their new album can be heard by clicking here.



Okay, look - you've got a problem with Snow Patrol or Pete Doherty, you are probably okay, right? You'd probably have to feel that way to love SELFISH CUNT (a completely unnecessary thing to say, but a line I'll pleasure). The nasty Londoners prank Scottish loveables and trade hands with celebrity drug addicts and offend critics and get themselves banned from venues (including the Barflys, ICA, On The Rocks, The Egg). Why it's almost like being in punk.

Selfish Cunt struck a nerve with the tender hit "Britain is Shit/Fuck the Poor," which most certainly must have been an unintentional juxtaposition of words, but never mind. The blow was struck and people started to notice - not just that Selfish Cunt is provocative (in the extreme), but genuinely good. And it's a good thing, because as a rule viciousness is not a strong selling point. Vulgarity sometimes works, but not viciousness. But never mind,  Blackburn vocalist Martin Tomlinson (the band's primary tosser of horse manure - Google that) is eerily Johnny Rotten; not literally, but he's a sound alike. Here again, this shouldn't work, mimicry having its own ceiling, but somehow it does and it must be because Martin is tops. His has less of a snarl than Rotten; is, in fact, more self-possessed like Bowie, more detached and dreamy. Effectively gay.

Kiwi guitarist Patrick Constable is more than adequate in the musician's role. He gives the band a professional polish, while drummer Bambi and bassist Matthew J. Saw drive the machine with full traction.

"Dyanowotimein," which you can hear on MySpace, is a delightful romp down ska-rock lane, with a Strokes-like bridge and a spooky, ironic chorus. Guardian Unlimited calls Selfish Cunt one of Britain's "Top 40 bands." That seems conservative.




Selfish Cunt MP3s can be heard at their MySpace site at


Selfish Cunt's 2004 release was titled No Wicked Heart Shall Prosper and is available at an Import price.

PUNK - A state of petulance preceding humility and rationalization


Rodney Smith has been ROOTS MANUVA for 13 years now, since assuming the identity in 1994 while still collaborating with Blak Twang, and since his 1999 breakthrough hit "Brand New Second Hand" he has been the sine qua non of British hip-hop. That distinction doesn't necessarily translate into huge commercial success, partly because the big U.S. hip-hop market doesn't have a British accent and does have a long reach. Roots' omnipresence in the British market has been largely gained, since the turn of the century, through his hook-ups with a group of other eclectic artists (including The Cinematic Orchestra, Beth Orton, Leftfield, the Gorillaz and Coldcut).

Roots' other signature approach has been to take his reggae techno. The son of Jamaican parents, the Stockwell (South London) native blends his instinctive island feel with dance club electronics. His rich voice lives on the back end of beats like a sucker punch, but Roots isn't a gangster. He's a head. He is going to go where few have gone before, blending political commentary with romantic melodic refrains and doing it with a disarming house rawness. It is exotic stuff, experimental in ways that one might expect of Miles Davis, were Miles still around. 







Roots Manuva MP3s can be heard at their MySpace site at .




LEFT: Roots Manuva's 2006 release Alternately Deep







RIGHT: Roots Manuva LPs (clockwise from top left) - Awfully Deep (2005), Dub Come Save Me (2002), Run Come Save Me (2001), and Brand New Second Hand (1999).



After seven studio albums, the Welsh rockers SUPER FURRY ANIMALS, or SFA as their fans know them, are starting to move on. Their last album for Epic Records, in 2005, was a democratic affair, with Gruff Rhys being only one of five members contributing songs and lead vocals. Love Kraft was a pretty relaxed affair that charted only "Lazer Beam" (which you can hear on the band's MySpace site). As Gruff went off the record a solo LP for Rough Trade, and Cian Ciaran and Dafydd leuan off on projects of their own, SFA's cult status was intact, maybe not growing.

SFA was taking on almost mythical status, however, in their dealings with Coca-Cola. The band got attention in 2005 for turning down nearly $2 million in fees for the use of "Hello Sunshine" (which can also be heard on their MySpace site). They came upon information that Coca-Cola was using violence against unionized plantation workers in Columbia - a charge that was, of course, denied - but SFA waved Coke off; a noble act.

Remember when R.E.M. was sort of in the duldrums then released their Monster album, with "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and all that glorious noise? There is a sense among people who care about this sort of thing that Super Furry Animals is about to deliver one of those.



SFA is fascinating in that they have sung a significant amount of their material in their native Welsh. This is culturally appealing and fits with the band's socially conscious image (though how sensitive would one really need to be to hesitate to profit from murder?), but it must be commercially limiting, no? Or is it that SFA is capable of beautiful performance, but not really of penning flat-out great tunes? They always feel heavy on gimmickry to me. A song like "Ice Hockey Hair" doesn't really need it and adding it sounds incidental. Great vocals, though, like The Beatles in high flight. "Lazer Beam" and "Hello Sunshine," by comparison, sound repetitive and uninspired (like the chorus out on "Ice Hockey Hair"). A lot of dicking around on an SFA record, until it becomes maddeningly self-indulgent. Unfortunately, that is also part of the legacy of this band. - RAR










SFA MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at

Photographs of SFA Copyright © Izumi Kumazawa.



We will not be saved from Edith Piaf, at least not by Beth Gibbons. In 2003 the former Portishead singer gave us an album with Paul Webb that veered from early '60s Brazilian jazz to a weird mimicry that recalled Piaf, but really sounded more like Jimmy Scott. Woh! Was anyone ready for that?

Beth Gibbons does have a carefully worn voice. You can hardly find a reference to her bluesy style that doesn't also include a reference to her smoking. Let's hope she gets over that because aging hipsters need a soundtrack too. Beth Gibbons, like another Beth - Orten - owns one of those instruments that is capable of melting away that wall that wants to prevail between artist and listener. You sense that she seeks to explore new turf for the new world. I'm not totally certain she'll find her new world voice in the past.





Beth Gibbons MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at  


Beth Gibbons and former Talk Talk member Paul Webb collaborated on the 2003 release Out of Season.



Someone wrote that the music of BROADCAST sounds beamed in from another planet. That's the result of pretty obvious tinkering with electronic toys to achieve a moog-like accompaniment to their essentially '60s pop sound. (They are a natural for the Austin Powers soundtrack, to which they have contributed "The Book Lovers.")

The Birmingham electronica band is fronted by Trish Keenan, who is possessed of one of the most beautiful instruments in modern pop. The band, over its 10-year run, has pretty much dissolved to become only Trish and bassist/collaborator James Cargill. But what do you need beyond her and a rhythm track?




Broadcast MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at  




Broadcast's Releases counterclockwise from top left: The Future Crayon (2006), Tender Buttons (2005), Ha Ha Sound (2003), The Noise Made By People (2000), Work and Non Work ( 1997), 




"The Broadcast vision is the meeting of human emotion in the electronic world. The optimistic belief in the compatibility of man and machine. A nature and nurture approach to music. The potential of folk, nursery rhyme and electronics to provoke memory and imagination. The past set in the future. A retrospective lyric set in an electronic description of an organic word."

- Broadcast's description of their "memory music" from their MySpace site



The confession of rediscovery is damning. 

It isn't like Morrissey had exactly gone missing, but I had. It was much to my own loss. As a music fan and a fan of wordsmithing in general, there is no one else really like Morrissey. His collaborations with Johnny Marr were perfect. The Smiths were the only band since The Beatles that struck some transcendent chord in me that could be experienced but not explained, even as people commonly shared it. And no, it's not a gay thing. One of the things that I found uplifting about Morrissey - and some might imagine this would be a short list - was his weird, vulnerable, defiant self awareness. And, of course, his humorous way of broadcasting it. 

I followed him - even supported him at the cash register - into his solo career and recognized the sound changes, but found no real drop-off from the wit and fury and romantic musicality of his Smith's work. He took on more of an edge-guitar sound Post-Marr. Still, we had all heard a lot of Morrissey by Vauxhall and I in 1994. The LP did well in Britain but Morrissey never achieved more than a cult following in the states. Maybe Morrissey felt it was time to recede. During his long absence from studio work, I would hear of him playing some unlikely place in Sonoma County. I would feel an urge to go, because I've rarely seen Morrissey at all, and never "live," but never went. I'm not a big nostalgia guy and Morrissey seemed like a piece of the past.

Morrissey returned as a recording artist in 2004 refreshingly unchanged in his basic Morrissey-ness. He is still witty, acerbic, and the writer-guy we have always known, so maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that time has served him well. The older Morrissey is still without classification, sort of a one-off species. It is the jarringly smooth blending of his menacing physical nature and his sensitive and openly-shared inner self that makes him an exercise in performance art. 

Morrissey seems to be living a role in which perverse producers have cast a dock worker as a gay thespian and instructed him to emote. The knockout is he does it so damned well! 

It continues to take me off guard. Over the years, Morrissey has been a good source of publicly provocative - some say "racist" -  statements, and often there are blunt references in his lyrics sprinkled among all the clever tenderness. The contradictions inform his every move, yet somehow his performances elicit  empathy. Morrissey flings his strapping big body around in dramatic movements, like a guy at home singing into his fist in front of his mirror when nobody's watching. He seems bullied by the force of the sound to strike odd poses and try broad gestures. He has one of those uncle faces that are frozen into a work mug and can't really do other than frown, so he is at odds with his own humor and he simmers. He is Stanley Kowalski living out dramatically, and Terry Malloy. He seems untouchable, not really a guy you want to cuddle. But then there is that voice, which has always been charismatic, but which has now honeyed into a smooth, assured melodic instrument. It is a neat trick to croon over a distortion-laden guitar band, and it takes real singer chops, which Morrissey now has in spades. It feels like our Manchester boy is back and in a package built to last. Like old pros do, Morrissey has gotten really good.

One wonders, in the Internet / niche market age, if enough people can be focused on any one guy for us to recognize, any longer, when the next legend is being made; the next Dylan, Judy Garland or Billie Holliday. Or the next Montgomery Clift, who is the only man I can think of who begins to share Morrissey's essential strangeness.

Morrissey would be my nominee for Outstanding Legend in the Making, were there such an honor. Recognized or not, the world seems in perspective when Morrissey's benignly tortured soul is acting out in full force and his peculiar artistry is revealed. It feels great to have him back. 





©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), March, 2012